Melancholia, an act of perversion? or, the case of the frog and the eel

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Conway, Joanne
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MA in Psychoanalysis
Dublin Business School
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To date, Freud's seminal article entitled Mourning and Melancholia 1917 (1915) remains largely forgotten in the analytic domain. Why should this be so? The answer perhaps rests in the fact that, although Freud explained and distinguished the clinical differences between the two phenomena, he remained stymied in his attempts to develop a fundamental clinical structure that would account for the appearance of melancholia in a subject as opposed to a mourning reaction. Perhaps there is no specific clinical structure to be found as a determinant of melancholia? Yet, it seems that within the pages of his paper on melancholia and in later articles, there are clues, which might serve to theorise an underlying clinical structure of melancholia. This paper therefore will revisit the concept of melancholia as outlined by Freud in his paper and seek to redefine it from a Lacanian perspective. Furthermore, this paper will seek to expound the thesis that there is an underlying clinical structure at work in melancholia and that it is perhaps a perverse one. This paper will explore the question whether the state of melancholia itself is a perverse act. Heretofore, melancholia has been regarded as a state, not an act. However, this paper will examine whether the work of melancholia (mourning) might be engaged in as a substitute for the perverse act, where certain conditions arise. In seeking to support this perspective, a clinical case will be discussed.